East Coast vs West Coast

•December 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I have recently found myself doing the east coast/west coast dance again. I am beginning to think that’s normal for most actors. Perhaps it’s the cooler temperatures here in NYC, or the recent spark to perform that was reignited with a theatre contract. Or the fact that my friends out west seem to be making strides of progress over the ones here in NYC. As thoughts dance around in my head, here are some of the conclusions and topics that have boggled my brain:

I have far more friends in NYC living and/or pursuing careers in acting – varying from stage, tv, film, improv and stand-up. I have a handful of friends doing the same thing out west. The ones out west are WORKING. Sure, they have survival jobs (well, some don’t!), but they are DOING IT. They aren’t doing back ground work or hoping to be discovered at a night club. They are going to auditions, workshops, classes, and BOOKING. They are co-starring, guest-starring, booking theatre contracts, indy films – they are constantly doing something great that is moving them forward. In fact, I don’t know of any friends out in LA who aren’t making strides and hustling. Not to say that my friends in NYC aren’t working their butts off, and booking too – some are doing FANTASTIC things! BUT, the percent of those in NYC who are making the strides of those in LA is WAY off.

Why is that? Are my friends out west more ambitious? More talented? More marketable? Lucky? Perhaps. But I am going to guess that at the end of the day, LA is where you need to be if you are REALLY going to be an actor.

I have heard the argument more and more that NYC is the place to be. More projects are filming here than ever! This is true. But do you know where many of those actors are cast from? LA. Sure, they’ll hold auditions here, but for some reason even little walk-on parts mostly go to LA actors. Production would cast and fly an actor out for a few lines. It happens all the time. Not to say NYC actors don’t book projects – they do! But the amount of projects that are cast here vs. LA makes it clear that LA is indeed, still the center of the filming world.

Okay, so what about theatre? NYC has Broadway, and theaters from all over the country come here to host auditions, right? Sure they do! And that’s why NYC has so many talented stage actors, dancers and singers. But, you will note that many leads on Broadway right now are being filled by ….. drumroll please! – Celebrities!!!!! Most are from LA and tv/film. So the odds that you’ll even be seriously considered for a lead on Broadway these days are no better than winning a lottery ticket. Sure, it happens. I have friends currently on Broadway, and they are fabulous. And if you are a dancer, you have much better odds of employment. And as far as those Regional Theaters go, many hire local hires (it’s cheaper), or use the same folks season after season – making it hard to break in. There is theatre in LA, and luckily for theatre actors out there, most actors who choose Tinsel Town go to become a celebrity. I have been told many times that in LA, there is a lack of down to earth, trained, talented theatre actors. And no, they don’t pay much, but you get to actually get on stage and do what you love!

It wasn’t my intent of this blog to make LA sound all perfect and NYC like dead-end. That certainly isn’t the case. However, as I see how careers are shaped around me, I will agree with the advice one of the Producers of Blue Bloods gave me years ago: If you want to be an actor, you need to be in LA.

So why am I still in NYC? Lot’s of reasons, and I’m sure those reasons are true for many of my actor friends in the concrete jungle. For one, moving across the country is expensive, and starting over is scary. Most of my friends and family are in the northeast part of the country. And at times, I despise this business. While I love it most of the time, it certainly has burned me out and left me feeling hostile and lost – which doesn’t fuel the desire to relocate 3000 miles. That being said, there are times I absolutely love my life as an actor. Being able to go to work and “play,” and bring entertainment, emotion, and joy to others is one of the best feelings. Whenever I feel down on this business, something reminds me why I fell in love with acting and singing as a child, and why I crave having it as part of my life.

Will I ever move to LA? I don’t know. It would be an adventure, and I do love a good adventure. But it would also be a risk, and something I feel I would really, definitely have to WANT to do. Then again, I don’t want to live with any regrets. None of us do. Though it’s hard to say what decisions we’ll regret and which ones we’ll celebrate. All I know is this: we all choose our own paths. We have to do what makes us happy. What defines someone’s happiness or success is up to them. For all of us, it will vary. And that’s pretty darn cool.

Pension payoff, and the sacrifices to get there

•October 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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Greetings!

I sadly have been neglecting this blog, as I have been religiously blogging weekly on my coaching page. It’s not that I don’t have anything acting/modeling to talk about – but it didn’t seem like I had enough to report of any real value.

Two great things to report: I’m back on stage at the end of the year in Philly, with an Equity Contract (obviously), playing the same role with the same theatre that gave me my Equity Card five years ago. I am so excited to get back on stage. Artistically, I’ve felt dead as I have focused on cranking out days toward my SAG Pension.

Second great thing to report: The soul-crushing work has paid off and I am now vested in my SAG Pension. No, it’s not a lot. But it’s SOMETHING. And I can always add to it. I must admit, this is a HUGE weight off my shoulders. I no longer feel trapped into taking mindless work because of my pension. Now I have more CHOICES. Choices are always good.

Which, I suppose is the purpose of this blog. When I first started doing extra/stand-in work, my experience level, current situation, understanding of the business, etc. were completely different from today. In truth, I learned A LOT from being on set as a piece of “moveable furniture.” I think anyone who wants to act on film, or wants to know what a day in the movies is like can learn a whole lot from being on a set. Standing-in and photo-doubling, I learned more. HOWEVER, it is VERY easy to get sucked into the comfort of consistent work, and to even fool yourself into thinking your role is “important,” or god-forbid: “ACTING.” The awful truth is that neither are true. It does not require any training to walk down the street on “background action,” or to sit at a table and “mime eating.” If you are not available, or do something wrong on set, they will simply replace you. All production needs is a body with a pulse to fill the space.

Standing-in and photo-doubling requires more intelligence, focus, and understanding of how filming works. However, you are still easily replaceable. And sure, you are perhaps considered “higher up” than those background folks doing crosses, but you also don’t really fit into any department of the crew. And once again, you are NOT acting.

As you can imagine, actors who dabble with this type of work will end up going one of a few ways: they’ll get comfortable and settle into a career of long-term background work, building a nice pension and leading a financially stable life. They also are really no longer “actors,” but as long as they are happy – hey, it’s a living. Or: they’ll balance some background work when money is tight, but otherwise avoid it like the plague. Agents and managers do NOT want their clients doing this type of work, and so actors who are routinely being sent out to castings will often work a different type of job to fit the bills. Or: they’ll suck it up to get vested in their pension, and then distance themselves from background work, and try to focus of fulfilling ART. ACTING. AUDITIONING. Or figure out another job that has purpose, gratification, and makes you happy.

Folks, being an actor is tough. But I have to say that in my experience, the hardest part has been being treated like a piece of moveable furniture, while “first team,” is treated like a valued human being. Nothing makes me closer to having an identity-induced, mental melt-down. For me, I cannot stomach it. I know I am just as good as that person, so I cannot stand to be treated like a miming, crafty-hoarding, desperate actor.

That’s not to say I’ll never take background work again. I will. I’ll happily take it on commercials. In fact, I’d love to do MORE of it on commercials. I also may take another long-term stand-in gig on a film or tv show, but I see it having an “end-by date.” Stand-in work at least has a specific purpose, and at times I really enjoy it. No, it’s not acting. But I can find something beneficial with doing it now and then.

As 2013 comes to a close in a few months, I will be singing and dancing on stage – bringing smiles and laughter to children. Don’t be fooled, I will also be healing my artistic soul, which I have put on the back-burner for way too long.

My hope is that in 2014, I can focus more on auditions and print work, my coaching business, and grabbing days on commercial sets, or standing-in to fill the void. No more being sucked into the routine, or the never-ending cycle I was once part of. After all, I don’t want to wake up when I am 40 years old, having done little with my life because I was doing mindless crosses in front of the camera every day. img_7084-editsmall

Racing Again!!!!!

•May 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Post-Race beer!!!!

Post-Race beer!!!!

This past Sunday I toed the line for my first race since injuring in November at the Harrisburg Marathon. Yes, I ran Boston three weeks ago, but I did not race. I simply ran it nice and easy. (See my previous post regarding my Boston 2013 experience).

This Sunday was also my 4-year-anniversary of racing – which is hard to believe! It all began at the Broad Street Run in 2010, when a very nervous runner began a 10-mile journey in Philadelphia. I cannot picture my life without running, and I am surprised at how far I have come in such a short amount of time. The cool thing is that most of my PRs are in my FUTURE – which is exciting!

Being my first post-Boston race, I went into Broad Street with a lot of anxiety. PTSD has plagued me almost every day since April 15th, and large crowds and loud noises are especially difficult. While I have learned to live with jumping at noises, waking up hearing bombs go off (in my head, I assume), and finding ways to ward off panic attacks when at street fairs, Grand Central Station, and other crowded areas, I knew a race with 40,000 runners (yes, that’s a LOT of people) was going to test me.

PTSD has also plagued my training, which had not been going entirely as planned before Boston. My tempo runs always went poorly, and I struggled with combining speed and distance. My track sessions faired better, but not great. After Boston, a crowded track left me on the border of panic attacks and tears, and I had to start to plan my workouts for when the track was least-crowded. Flying soccer balls, people dodging in front of me, going the wrong way….It was too much.

I decided last week that I would do my best in Philly, but a PR was highly unlikely. I originally planned on running a 1:02-1:04 race, and I knew it would take a miracle for my body to pull that off. Instead, I decided I would do my best, and find positives about race day. After all, I love this race, and I love running. Being hung up on an out-of-reach PR seemed silly.

Race morning came, and I handled the large crowds as best I could. I told myself to not panic, which sometimes works. Instead I focused on my 10 mile journey. Before the race, the organizers dedicated the race to Boston, which brought up all kinds of terrible feelings. I wanted to yell. I wanted to cry. I wanted to shout that everyone needs to stop making Boston about THEM, as thousands of runners wore red socks in dedication to Boston. Instead, I took deep breaths and blocked out the dedications.

The first four miles felt good. Mentally, I was focused and happy. My body somehow was on target to run a 1:04:xx, which was a nice surprise, but I didn’t think it would last. The funny thing about PTSD is that things will set it off that I wouldn’t expect. After mile 4, as I ran past Temple University, the school marching band was playing (I cannot even remember the song!), but I burst into tears. I was a mess. Let me tell you, it is hard to run a 6:25 minute mile while sobbing.

I got myself together after a few minutes of struggling mentally and physically (thanks to crying), and was emotionally okay until a few miles later a small child handed me a cup of water. Again, I began to cry.

Between mile 7-8 I began to tire. A runner pulled up next to me and suggested we work together. This sounded like a good plan, until my left hamstring began to tighten. This was new. I have never had hamstring issues before. After a mile or so together, I told her to push on without me. I told her she looked strong, which she did.

Somewhere after mile 8 I got my head to take control over my tired body. I hadn’t run this hard and this far since autumn 2012. I knew my head was my last weapon. Perhaps it’s the years of experience, age, or my dumb workhorse mentality, but I refused to give in and slow any more than I already had. I cranked out those last few miles on fumes, and the will to fight.

I slowly fished a few runners in, and somehow had a kick at the end. I crossed the line in 1:05:37. Just shy of last year’s PR of 1:05:24. The inability to PR didn’t matter. I walked away from the finish line, suddenly very much aware of my surroundings. I began to panic. I began to cry. I began to anticipate something to explode somewhere. I mentally prepared myself to run for my life again. However, nothing happened. As I walked to get my medal and a cup of gatorade from a volunteer, I remember looking this young girl in her eyes and thanking her for volunteering.

My brother and Chris met me at the family meeting area after they finished, and we celebrated later with cheese steaks and beer – like you do in Philly. Perhaps the best part of the day was sharing the race with Chris (his third Broad Street Run), and my brother, James ran his FIRST RACE EVER!!!!!

Boston Marathon 2013

•April 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

ImageThe entire country has been hit hard by the events on the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon. If you would like to read about my personal experiences, as a runner, coach, witness and human, please check out my blog entries (I wrote three, each covering different pieces of marathon weekend) here. 

I hope that you and those close to you were not injured on Monday. 

Yours in running,

Coach Corky/Elizabeth CorkumImage

New Website, New Business!

•February 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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As I have mentioned recently, I have been taking the steps to transition from a career mainly as a performance artist to one that now includes work as a running coach, sports nutritionist and personal trainer.

Well folks, the time has come and my new business is officially launched! While this blog will still be updated regarding my acting, modeling and running adventures, check out and subscribe to my coaching site for training tips, video blogs, fun facts and much more. Enjoy!

Coach Corky Runs! Let’s go run!

Running Again

•February 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Since my last blog, I have been cleared to run again. After 8 weeks off from running, I was given the green light to run again, building slowly. I started with a 15 mile week, and have built by 10% since. I remember how shockingly difficult a few miles in the Harlem Hills felt, but that has greatly improved. While I am still not allowed to add speed work of any kind to my mileage for another few weeks, I am up to 24 miles this week.

While it has been a test to running easy and such small mileage, I am just thankful to be out there on my feet again.

Since the last post, I have moved, finished up some certifications for coaching, and have had some amazing career highs and lows as an actor and model. Running, like it always has, keeps me sane and taking the ups and downs in stride.

I am beyond enthusiastic to launch my coaching business, in a new and more official way. While I have coached in the past, I am excited to really dig in, create a brand, and help others achieve their fitness goals!  I’m almost finished with the coaching website, and will be sure to make a big announcement here when the business goes live!

I’d Rather Run Than Recover

•December 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It has been over six weeks since the Harrisburg Marathon, and I have since been dealing the injury as best as possible.

Medical diagnosis: Tear in my left plantar (no surprise, that culprit has plagued me since my first marathon off and on), tendonitis in my Posterior Tibial (which is where the stabbing pain occurred during the Harrisburg Marathon), and a precursor to a stress fracture in my left heel. The plan of action: NO RUNNING or high impact activities for EIGHT WEEKS. After eight weeks, we’d re-test and see if the heel will be healed enough to flirt with the idea of running again.

At the time of the diagnosis, I was crushed. Eight weeks sounded like a death sentence. Boston Marathon training, which was supposed to start December 10th, had to be put to rest. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t an emotional basket-case for a good few days. I didn’t realize how much of my identity, as an athlete, coach, and human being hit me to the core. No running equalled no coaching (in person, running with a client), no doing what I loved most (simply running for me), and no focus on Boston. I felt myself slip away.

A few days after the shock of the diagnosis, I tried to get  grip on what my future eight weeks meant for me. Complete rest was out of the question, as I am terrible at sitting still. Also, I had tons of fear regarding losing my fitness, and having to start all over when my foot finally healed. I joined NYSC, as they have a deal of $30/30 days. Way cheaper than water running, which may be an option for January, if my heel is still not in running shape. At the gym, I’d get to sweat and partly human. While cranking away on the stair master or elliptical for an hour, I’d fantasize about running track repeats with my team mates, or running solo on a crisp winter night in Central Park.

While the gym membership saved my sanity these last four weeks, I am definitely an athlete and not a gym rat. The gym is great for many reasons, but something in my gut was missing from my workout. When I run, I clear my head from all kinds of clutter and find clarity, strength and focus. At the gym, I distracted my bored mind with the tv. The one thing I really enjoyed at the gym was the row machine. Like running, the row machine lets you get out of the workout what you give. Plus, it’s hard – which I love.

When I see people outside running these days, I am incredibly envious. I have to stop myself from wanting to join them. I find running to be such a joyful, fulfilling activity, one that I have never taken for granted, but something I celebrated everyday. I cannot wait to get back out there on my legs.

So here we are, over six weeks since that terrible marathon. I can finally go back and hope that my foot has heeled in early January. IF I get the okay to run again, I have been cautioned by my doctor, who is an accomplished runner and triathlete, that the first four weeks back will have to be easy. TRANSLATION: NOT the work required for Boston Marathon training.

I have made peace with the fact that Boston will probably not happen for me to 2013. While that is deeply frustrating for many reasons (check out past blogs), I have learned that sometimes goals have to be changed. Boston will be there in 2014, and the years that follow. I need to focus on getting back on my feet in a healthy, smart manner that will lead to a strong year – not a relapse.

As I took part in the Philly Marathon the following weekend, for the first time as a spectator, my love for this fantastic sport was reaffirmed. I love everything about race culture, and as I cheered on my team mates, friends, and Chris, I felt a bittersweet joy. Watching the elites hammer out fantastic race times (including a new female record for the course that day!), I felt inspired to really take my rest seriously, and to come back stronger, smarter and more determined – when the time is right.

The Philly Marathon has been my favorite marathon of my short running career, and if I cannot have a PR in Boston, I hope that things go well for a PR in Philly 2013.